We dodged a bullet in 2008. We dodged a missile in 2012. Now, America has nowhere to go but up.
If Mitt Romney had pulled out a victory last Tuesday, not only would that have meant the end of our economy and the beginning of more endless wars, it would have validated bigotry and divisiveness as a winning strategy. A Romney victory would have validated the idea that lying and cheating all the way to the highest office in the land is okay; that lying and cheating to get anything you want is okay. That would have been a horrible lesson to bequeath to future generations of Americans.
Thankfully, more than 60 million Americans turned out to beat back the forces of destruction. So many stood in line for hours and hours and hours in unfavorable weather to cast their votes for President Obama - IMHO, a heroic act. But, this election never should have been close. I wonder how many votes Obama lost to GOP voter suppression efforts. And unfortunately, nearly 60 million willingly cast their votes for a pathological liar, who was trying to sell Americans more economic snake oil. To see the stunned looks on the faces of Romney's supporters when they realized defeat, is, in a word - delicious. I feel nothing for them. They endorsed horrible leaders who basically wanted to screw me, my family, my friends, and all the rest of us who don't believe what they do. They wanted to take away our right to vote. Our rights to our own bodies. Our right to determine whom we love and whom we wish to marry. Our right to a life lived with dignity, and not total impoverishment. It is they - right wing demagogues - who want to take away our freedoms. And we - the majority of the people - did not let them. And we will continue to stop them, because we must.
President Obama deserved this victory. The Democrats who rode his coattails deserved their victory. Everyone who opened their wallets and worked their butts off, knocking on doors and making thousands of phone calls, deserves a million thanks. I feel more optimistic about my country than I have in a long time. We did this, and I look forward to peace and prosperity for four more years and beyond.
So the punditocracy is declaring Full of Mitt the "winner" of tonight's debate. Romney was rude and mendacious throughout, whereas Obama was presidential. Obama stated his accomplishments clearly and deftly parried Romney's attacks. But Romney - as I saw one liberal commentator tweet - "crushed" Obama? Seriously? You've gotta be kidding me.
I've really had enough of this bulls--t.
I'm sick of seeing habitual liars and fast-talking con artists be taken seriously as leadership potential in this country.
I'm sick of seeing leading figures on the left wring their hands and unfairly nitpick Obama's performance - people who should know better.
I'm sick of seeing Obama's intellectualism - and intellectualism in general - constantly suspected, disrespected and derided.
I'm sick of the media making up crap just to manipulate public opinion.
I'm sick of being bombarded with propaganda disguised as political discourse.
I'm sick of seeing a culture elevate style over substance when it comes to our political leaders.
The pundit class mocked Al Gore. They crucified John Kerry. As a result, voters left reason behind and put a dangerous bumpkin in the Oval Office. Now, the chattering classes are skewering Obama for no good reason. When will American culture stop accepting mediocrity and incompetence, and start valuing reason and intelligence? When will thoughtfulness be seen as a sign of strength, rather than aggressiveness? When will we stop asking this question about a potential Commander-in-Chief, "Would I have a beer with this person?" and start asking, "Can this person skillfully lead a nation and help solve its problems?" When?
Dirma Rodriguez, whose story was featured in the Los Angeles Times, accuses BofA representatives of using high-pressure tactics to get her to sign away her rights to her home. The house had passed to BofA after the company acquired Countrywide. Rodriguez had taken out a loan to upgrade the house to accommodate her severely disabled daughter, Ingrid. While awaiting a permanent loan modification, Rodriguez's payments jumped, and she soon fell behind. The bank foreclosed on the property, and evicted the family in March. The home was then sold at auction. OFF, with the help of MoveOn LA, tried and failed to get a meeting with Raul Anaya, BofA's regional vice president for corporate responsibility, to discuss the Rodriguez family's case. The decision was then made to stage a protest outside Anaya's Pasadena home and "fraudulently foreclose" on his property.
This week marked a grim anniversary for my hometown of Los Angeles. Beginning on April 29, 1992, the city erupted in anger and fire for several days after a Simi Valley jury acquitted four LAPD officers in the beating of unarmed African-American motorist Rodney King.
Our local media is filled with stories of reporters, community leaders and residents remembering where they were and how they reacted when the civil unrest unfolded. I can't share in those stories, because I wasn't in L.A. at the time. I was a student at UC Berkeley, and I discovered that my hometown was burning when the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle landed at my dorm room door. Like millions across the country and the world, I could only watch - horrified - on my television from afar.
If you haven't read this Los Angeles Times article about hypocrisy in South Carolina when it comes to federal spending, it's a real eye-opener. In it, a Rick Santorum supporter by the name of Nancy Garvin delivers the typical tea party rant about government. The 54-year-old complains, to paraphrase, that she's tired of the federal government frittering away money on useless programs:
"Washington is throwing money away through a lot of wasteful spending," she said, sitting at a picnic table beneath trees draped in graying Spanish moss.
But Garvin, whose husband, a carpenter, has been out of work for four years, depends on the very government she wants to see cut back. She collects disability insurance — it is what she and her husband have survived on as he's looked for work. Her mother is on Social Security. Garvin herself used to work as a nurse at a hospital where many patients paid for services through Medicaid, another program using federal money.
So typical. Just like the iconic tea party protester with the "Get Your Government Hands Off My Medicare!" sign. Blue collar right wingers hate government programs - except the ones they use. Which brings me to the reason why the very wealthy, the 1-percenters, should pay more in taxes than you and me and the Nancy Garvins of the world. More below the orange nebula galaxy.
The phrase, "redistribution of wealth," is radioactive in American political discourse. It's about as popular to the right wing as a crucifix is to a vampire. But the problem isn't - as right wingers would have us believe - taking from the rich and giving to the middle class and poor. For decades it's clearly been the other way around. America's collective wealth has already been extracted and redistributed from the many to the few. And we, the many, demand it back.
I drive a 2000 Toyota Camry in my hometown of Los Angeles, probably the most car-centric metropolis in the United States, if not the world. My car is far from flashy, but it gets decent gas mileage and navigates L.A.'s hair-raising roadways better than my old Saturn compact did.
Although I like my car, I sometimes think of my car as The Ball and Chain. Because when it comes to transportation in Tinseltown, there are few options.
By vote of 11-0, with 2 abstentions, the city of Los Angeles on Tuesday became the largest U.S. city to call for an end to all corporate constitutional rights. The City Council chambers was standing room only, as more than 30 members of the public, including myself, spoke in favor of the resolution, which had been introduced by outgoing Council president Eric Garcetti, and Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Bill Rosendahl. Garcetti (who had just stepped off a plane from New York), Krekorian, Rosendahl all made comments favoring the resolution, as well as Councilmembers Richard Alarcon, Jose Huizar and Tom LaBonge. The effort was spearheaded by Move to Amend Los Angeles, a chapter of national Move to Amend. In addition to endorsing an end to corporate constitutional rights, the Council also endorsed MTA-LA amendments to abolish the concept that money equals speech.
However, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, the L.A. city officials have a chance to redeem themselves. The L.A. City Council will vote on a non-binding resolution to endorse amending the U.S. Constitution to establish that only human beings - not corporations - are entitled to constitutional rights, and that money does not equal speech. If passed, Los Angeles will be the first major city in the United States to strike a blow against Big Business and the moneyed elite's subversion of our democracy. A "yes" vote will go a long way toward making amends with the Occupy movement. A "yes" vote will show that the City of Los Angeles is serious about restoring our democracy and the rule of law.
I wrote this as I was watching streaming video of yesterday's massive Day of Action going on in New York, where people were literally taking the streets. It was an amazing effort. I've read comments and heard a lot of hand wringing over whether Occupy Wall Street is shooting itself in the foot by continuing the overnight campouts, holding demonstrations that block traffic, heckling speeches by the likes of Karl Rove, Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor and others in positions of power. The chattering classes have leapt onto (and progressives are fretting over) one poll showing the OWS movement is losing support to of all people, the Tea Party.
Some argue that although OWS's message remains popular, they fear the tactics may be starting to wear on the public. I've also read complaints of people feeling inconvenienced in their daily lives by the demonstrations. Others feel the public heckling is infringing on the free speech rights of the heckled, even if those heckled are odious individuals. Some say it's time for the Occupiers to go inside, choose a leader, come up with a strategy for change, and work within the political process to achieve that change. Are the naysayers right? Or are they missing something here?
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.
Many people have heard of this famous quotation, and it's probably been mentioned in blogs here on this site. But I wanted to point to it again, and you'll see why below. The passage is attributed to Martin Niemoller, the late German Protestant pastor who regretted that he and other intellectuals did not speak out earlier against the Nazis' persecution of the Jewish people, which led to the Holocaust. Niemoller eventually did become an ardent critic of Hitler, and for that, got seven years in a concentration camp. (He survived the camps and died in 1984.)
I instantly thought about Niemoller's quote when I saw Mike Weinman of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police interviewed on the Rachel Maddow Show two nights ago. Weinman, a lifelong Republican, spoke of how he and other police officers - a typically conservative constituency - felt betrayed after Gov. John Kasich signed a bill stripping all state public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Watch:
My feet are aching, but my spirits are lifted. On Saturday, Mar. 26, 2011, I participated in the large labor march and rally in downtown Los Angeles. The event was held to support public employee workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere fighting against right-wing attacks on their collective bargaining rights. Thousands of people attended, including members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Farmworkers and other unions. The march began Saturday morning at the L.A. Convention Center, stopped at various anti-union businesses along the way to Pershing Square, site of the rally that afternoon.
I'm not in a labor union. In fact, I am one of those uncounted unemployed people who work part-time, but are seeking full-time employment and have had trouble finding any. I call myself a member of the "Union of the Unemployed and Underemployed." Nevertheless, I have friends and family who are in unions, and I am active in progressive politics, so I just had to be there.